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Alms for the Graduating

From I.V. to Reality: What’s Next for the Class of 2011?


Ruminating on the bleakness of the job market for upcoming college grads has become something of a conversational cliché. Still, I find it comforting to know that it’s a collective dearth we’re looking at—that it’s not just me that has to weather the storm. It’s all of us, together.

In Isla Vista, and in the nervous little universe of 2011 grads everywhere, I feel that we’re still at a stage where it’s okay not to know yet what our plans are for next year. However, we’re nearing the end of that time period.

Natalia Cohen

With the academic year nearly two-thirds over, students’ plans are beginning to solidify. Most have either turned in grad-school applications or sent out resumes. Many have already received the blessed psalms of acceptance letters to grad schools, or emails letting them know they “got the job” at a company.

For those who aren’t in either of those situations, there are people whose aim is to provide advice and assistance. According to Micael Kemp, director of Career Services at UCSB, the current job market calls for students to take certain precautions when it comes to their post-graduation job searches. “Get started earlier than you anticipated,” Kemp said. “It’s ill-advised to start [your job search] a month before or after gradation.

Securing a job for post-grad life also requires a healthy sense of perspective.

“Be persistent,” Kemp said. “Don’t expect to get a job after your first resume or interview. Apply to a lot of positions.”

Kemp has the unique perspective of having worked at Career Services for 30 years. In her career, she has witnessed fluctuations in the job market and how they have impacted the lives of the students that she and her colleagues help. “It seems like a seesaw,” Kemp said. “In the 1990s, employers were competitive, they would give out signing bonuses. There were more jobs than people. In the 1980s, it was more like it is today.”

Nevertheless, certain aspects of the post-college job search remain constant. “You still want to put your best foot forward,” Kemp said. “Submit a targeted resume and cover letter.”

Moreover, though newspaper articles and on-air pundits—and, let’s face it, reality—paint the current job market as rough terrain, current technologies have produced tools to help put earnest 21st century job-seekers on the road to the good life.

“A tool that’s very helpful now is LinkedIn,” Kemp said. “I suggest students create an account and make use of it. You can [connect with] people working in companies, and ask them questions. Networking is key, even more critical because companies want to hire people that are known quantities.”

Kemp also noted that, after having seen varying economies throughout her career, it’s evident that things are never entirely fixed or constant. “Nothing ever stays the same,” Kemp said. The job market “will seesaw back in another 10 years—though that doesn’t help students right now.”

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